The Bartlett School of Planning

Dr Catalina Turcu

Dr Catalina Turcu

Associate Professor

The Bartlett School of Planning

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2010

Research summary

ORCiD: 0000-0003-2663-2586

My work contributes to the understanding and measurement of local sustainability in urban areas. Theoretically, my research adds the institutional dimension to the traditional three-pillar (economic, social, environmental) understanding of sustainability. Empirically, my research examines sustainable urban transformations at the local level by integrating social, institutional and physical aspects of the built environment. My core research contributions are summarised below under three inter-related themes.

1. The role of institutions in shaping local sustainability. My work employs institutional lens to examine local sustainability processes. It examines formal institutions and governance frameworks that shape these processes, as well as informal institutions such as social responsibility and institutional trust.  

2. The social context of local sustainability. My research contributes to an agency and intersectional understanding of sustainability which is bottom-up and place-based. The social production and re-production of sustainability knowledge at the local level is a recurring sub-theme here and has been extensively developed in relation to sustainability indicators.

3. Urban narratives of local sustainability. In this body of work I look at how sustainable cities imaginaries (such as low-carbon, healthy, circular city) are applied in spatial planning and the built environment at the local level, and in relation to Sustainable Development Goal 11 ('Sustainable Cities and Communities').

Current research projects:

  • FULL (Food for Urban Lives and Locality)
  • DenseHOUSE (Housing densification, social sustainability and placemaking)
  • CUSSH (Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health)

Teaching summary

Currently, I teach and convene the following modules at the postgraduate level:

- Sustainable Urban Development Key Themes (BPLN0058)

- Sustainable Urban Development Project (BPLN0106)

- Major Research Projects (BPLN0052)

I have also taught on the following topics at UCL, LSE and UAUIM:

- Governing urban sustainability (UCL, pgt)

- Green futures (UCL, ug)

- Making cities: the production of the built environment (UCL, ug)

- Urban poverty, spatial and social exclusion (LSE, ug)

- International housing and social change (LSE, ug)

- Public administration and urban management (UAUIM, ug)

- Materials and building specification (UAUIM, ug)


University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education | 2014
London School of Economics and Political Science
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2010
London School of Economics and Political Science
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 2001
Universitatea din Bucuresti
Other higher degree, Master | 1999
Universitatea din Bucuresti
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Diploma of Architecture | 1996
Universitatea din Bucuresti
First Degree, Bachelor of Architecture | 1993


I am currently Professor of Sustainable Built Environment at the Bartlett School of Planning  am an interdisciplinary scholar by training (architecture, social policy, political science) and interest (sustainability). I hold a PhD in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) and degrees in housing (MSc, LSE), urban planning (MA, UAUIM) and architecture (BArch and DipArch, UAUIM). I have worked in architecture and planning consultancy for 10 years before joining academia.